Adrian Ho Interview: Modern Experience Design

MIMA’s Monthly Event will take place Wednesday March 21, 2018 and feature Adrian Ho, CEO and founding partner of Zeus Jones. Adrian will discuss modern experience design and what that means for marketers.

We know delivering experiences is a critical component of brand strategy. The convergence of changes in technology, culture and consumer demand are reshaping the landscape of how these experiences are delivered.

MIMA: What do you feel is the definition of modern experience design?

Adrian: Modern experience design isn’t just about understanding the changes that are happening within how people experience interactions, unless those changes are happening because of digital and digital technologies. Experiences are how brands are increasingly bringing themselves to life and they are the primary channel for brands. As a result, we need to think about what digital is doing to brands. Digital is changing experience design and branding at the exact same time, but it is changing them in very different ways. Modern experience design really fits at the intersection of those two changes and is part of what makes designing these experiences so complex.

MIMA: What do you feel the modern consumer wants from brands? If these interactions are changing, is it because the consumer is asking for something different?

Adrian: I think that is true to some extent. Consumer desires are changing with what they are expecting from brands. But I think there are bigger shifts going on. One of the things that is really changing experience design is that we don’t make decisions on our own about products and services. We largely make decisions with a piece of technology. And in some cases, we don’t make those decisions at all – we outsource our decisions to technology. If I have, for example, an agent looking for home insurance for me, I am not really making that decision, it is the robot making the decision for me.

MIMA: Makes sense. You mentioned cultural shifts too. How does that fit in with modern experience design?

Adrian: Yes. You have cultural forces and an array of cultural change which means brands are increasingly impacted by things that aren’t necessarily directly within their control. A recent example in the news, was with the NRA. Regardless of your politics, the experience was instructive. Look at the way that Fed Ex responded versus the way that Dick’s and Delta responded to what was happening. The science of experiences is becoming more developed. Much of what we now know is super important in an experience, is the pre-existing feelings and thoughts people have about a company. We bring our pre-existing feelings into every interaction. Your brand’s response to an unrelated news event or cultural event could really shape pretty dramatically how large numbers of people feel about your company. A person’s interactions with your brand, your company, or even the people within the company, are just as important if not more so than the design you may put into the experience itself.

MIMA: How do you plan for those types of culturally significant events?

Adrian: We have known for quite some time that there is an increasing level of transparency into a company’s operations including their personnel. Look how much damage the former CEO of Uber did to that brand. They may never recover from that. We have known these things for a long time, but as we become more sophisticated with designing experiences and interactions, we must take into account how we design for these events. You can’t delight a customer in one area while hurting them in another. It doesn’t work.

MIMA: Uber became successful, then the truth came out about its business practices which were damaging a lot of people.

Adrian: It began to surface how they were paying their drivers like crap and the drivers were in some cases losing money. The customer then says, “I don’t care how good that experience is, Lyft is good enough.” Lyft may not deliver an in-app experience that is functionally as amazing, but emotionally I don’t feel dirty every time I use the service.

MIMA: I look forward to your talk this week. What is something that you can share that none of our members would know about you?

Adrian: Almost everything! (he laughs) So, I have a dog. If you were to ask me, I’d say I was much more of a cat person than a dog person. It is my wife’s dog. How I ended up with a dog is we once had a bet that if she got a dog, I could buy an expensive car. Except I couldn’t afford the car, so she just won. So that is why we have a dog. As for the cat, I like the idea of a cat, I just don’t like the reality of them.

Join MIMA at the March event to hear more examples from Adrian of the Modern Experience Design and the wealth of knowledge he will share.

Written by MIMA Marketing Committee Chair and volunteer, Gina Micek

Gina Micek


Integrated marketing strategist, writer, storyteller and adventurer. I am a builder with skills in relationship building and telling compelling stories that drive connections.